The five-year extension agreed between the US and Washington does not put all nuclear weapons under control but it prevents, for the moment, a new arms race. Russia and the United States have agreed to extend the Treaty on Measures for the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons (New START) without preconditions. The change of president in the US has made both powers reach an agreement. The extension was made according to our terms. For five years without preconditions, without additions, without appendices of any kind, boasted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The extension does not bring all nuclear weapons under control but prevents, for the moment, a new arms race.
Russia and the United States will complete “in the next few days” all the necessary procedures for the extension of START. This was announced by the Kremlin at the end of a telephone conversation between the Russian and American presidents, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden. Biden had already spoken in favor of extending the treaty by five years. The START was signed in 1991 by the then leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev. In April 2010, the agreement was replaced by the New Start treaty, signed by the then leaders of the United States and Russia, Barack Obama, and Dimitri Medvedev. Now there is an urgency to renew it, because it expires on February 5.
The treaty limits nuclear arsenals to 1,550 strategic warheads. The five-year extension is in the original text – if both countries agree – so it does not need further approval from the US legislature. Putin will need to ratify the extension through the Duma, which will not be a problem as he controls the parliamentary majority. According to The New York Times, during the night of Monday, the countries exchanged diplomatic notes to extend the treaty for five years, the maximum allowed in its text. Former US President Donald Trump had declared that he would not expand it unless China also joined. The Chinese at all times rejected the idea and pointed out that they have less than 300 nuclear weapons deployed.
90% OF THE PLANET’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS
It’s unclear if the deal would cover Russia’s newest ‘creation’ – nuclear-armed underwater drones. The treaty extension does not affect all nuclear weapons, nor does it reverse Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Weapons deal. Moscow and Washington have 90% of all the nuclear weapons that exist on the planet. The Kremlin reported that Putin told Biden that normalizing the relationship between Russia and the United States would be in the interest of both countries and, given their special responsibility for security and stability in the world, of the entire international community.
During the conversation, both leaders also addressed issues such as alleged Russian interference in the 2020 US elections and reports that Moscow is handing out rewards to the Taliban for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Biden’s intention was to make it clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of our national interests, in response to malicious actions on the part of Russia, explained White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The agreement is a step in the right direction but the contradictions are increasing in a spiral, Putin said during his virtual speech at the Davos Forum. The Russian leader perceives a crisis in the previous models of economic development and reinforcement of social disparities both globally and in various countries, for which he warned that the situation caused by the pandemic is reminiscent of what happened in the 30s of the last century, alluding to the crisis of 1929, the rise of Nazism and the start of the Second World War. Putin warned of rising social unrest, which he considers dangerous to ignore, and alluded to the storming of the Capitol in Washington in early January but not the demonstrations in Moscow last weekend.
The Russian president considers the centralized and unipolar world order dead but cast a suspicious glance at the big technology companies. They are no longer just economic giants, in some areas they are already competing ‘de facto’ with the states. His words came at the same time that a project was known to make social networks legally responsible for involving adolescents in illegal activities. The government has recently lashed out at Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other social networks by broadcasting calls for demonstrations not approved by the authorities. He has even threatened them with millionaire fines. Now Roskomnadzor, the body that regulates communications in Russia, is preparing a legal offensive in this regard.